Patrick O’Brian, The Unknown Shore

… I picked this book up used for a dollar, being that I have (of course I do!) all the Aubrey/Maturin books except the fragmentary final one, which is only about three chapters in handwritten facsimile. This isn’t part of the series, but almost the instant you start reading, you realize it’s part of the series anyway. It’s a trial run. Same characters loosely disguised, same circumstances, same quality of writing – actually, a higher quality of writing in the first 87 pages, which are as far as I’ve read.

It’s funny. It’s fun. Its period detail is gorgeous. The Maturin-ish character is at centre stage so far, and is perfectly Maturin. The Aubrey-ish character has appointed himself Maturin’s guardian, and is keeping a watchful eye on him (has already rescued him from cruel parents and dragged him away to sea).

Let’s see how the story holds up throughout the book.

–If I’d picked up this book without reading anything else of O’Brian’s, at this point I’d be checking out all his other books and making plans to track them down and buy them.

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